Donovan Mitchell.

Ranking the top five NBA Rookie of the Year candidates so far this season

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The 2017 NBA draft was viewed by many as one of the best classes in recent years with a number of talented young stars entering the league.

In the early stages of this season, a number of those players are proving that statement to be correct as this year's rookies have been hugely impressive.

Some of the top picks are already living up to their billing but there have been some pleasant surprises too.

As a result, it's already shaping up to be one of the most hotly contested Rookie of the Year battles for a long time.

Here are the top five candidates so far:


Golden State Warriors v Philadelphia 76ers

Despite not coming out of this draft class, the Philadelphia 76ers star missed his entire first year with injury and is competing in his rookie season now and his impact on the team has been instant.

Having been selected with the number one overall pick in 2016, Simmons' talent was already evident but nobody envisaged that he would be as good as he has been in the opening months of the campaign.

Even though he's 6'10", the 21-year-old is playing at the point guard position for the 76ers and has run their offense like a seasoned pro. He is a triple-double threat every night and has already posted four in his first 28 games.

The Aussie is averaging 17.3 points, 7.8 assists and 9.0 rebounds per game which are truly outstanding numbers for a rookie and that's why he's the frontrunner for the award.


Denver Nuggets v Utah Jazz

The Utah Jazz shooting guard has been one of the biggest surprises of the season as he's outperforming every other player in his draft class and is already developing into a franchise player in Salt Lake City and a superstar in the making.

He is the leading scorer for the Jazz with 17.7 points per game and after starting the year on the bench, head coach Quinn Snyder quickly inserted him into the starting lineup after just eight games.

The Louisville product has put up huge numbers in recent weeks and became the first rookie to post 40 points since Blake Griffin in 2011 when he torched the New Orleans Pelicans. He's shooting 42.6 percent from the field and 36.6 percent from three-point range and is already a reliable scorer in the league.

The youngster has shown maturity beyond his years and looks like he's been playing in the NBA for years. Over the last month, he's firmly closed the gap on Simmons in the race for ROY and will continue to give him a run for his money.


Milwaukee Bucks v Boston Celtics

After being selected with the number three pick in the draft by the Boston Celtics, it's not surprising to see the small forward playing so well but not many expected him to have such a big role on a championship-contending team. 

Following the injury to Gordon Hayward in the opening game, Tatum has had to take more responsibility on both ends of the floor and he hasn't disappointed. Even though he's playing with Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, the 19-year-old is still contributing well offensively with 14 points per game. 

But it's his efficiency that has been the most remarkable aspect of his game as he's hitting 50.9 percent from the floor and 49.5 from beyond the arc - which sees him rank number one in the league.

He's slowly emerging as one of the best three-and-D player in the league and a solid wing defender. The former Duke man deserves to be in the conversation with the top rooks. 


Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix Suns

There's no doubt that Kuzma should be regarded as the steal of the draft at number 27 and many teams are already kicking themselves for passing on him. 

But their loss has been the Los Angeles Lakers' gain as he's their leading scorer this year with 17.7 points off the bench. He should also be considered as a top candidate for the Sixth Man of the Year award.

It's fair to say that nobody predicted that the young power forward would be having such a productive campaign as he's proving to be a good scorer and rebounder as he claims 6.9 boards a game.

In terms of numbers, he's up there with his fellow rookies and will be a serious contender. 


Phoenix Suns v Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls selected the seven-footer from Finland with the number seven pick they acquired from the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Jimmy Butler trade and he has been a standout performer so far.

Markkanen is currently putting up a respectable 14.7 points and 8.0 rebounds and is already a key piece of Chicago's rebuilding process. 

He represents the modern day big man as he can stretch the floor with his shooting range and is also adept at scoring inside. 

The franchise may have raised some eyebrows when they selected him ahead of other top prospects but their decision is proving to be right as he's made a solid impact in the Windy City and has a bright future ahead of him in the NBA. 

Utah Jazz
Northwest Division
Western Conference
Boston Celtics
Atlantic Division
Eastern Conference
L.A. Lakers
Pacific Division
Philadelphia 76ers
Chicago Bulls
Central Division

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